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Art & Culture

Neo Classical Dances

The neoclassical dances of Kerala represent a delicate fusion of the folk and classical traditions of Kerala's dances. But the fusion is not artistically complete to the extent that homogenous blending of the two dance forms has not been achieved to perfection. The neo-classical dances surfaced at some intermediate stage between the process of evolution from the folk tradition to the classical tradition.

The neoclassical dance thus retain not only the essential flavours of the folk and classical traditions but project distinctive individuality of their own.

Meenakshi Natakom

Meenakshinatakom and Kamsanatakom are two crude dance dramas which are still in vague in some parts of Palakkad district. There are some scholars who believed that these dance are earlier than even Krishnanattom, Ramanattom etc. According to them, these dances are the Kerala counterparts of Teru Koothu of Tamil Nadu, the Veedhinatakom of Andhra Pradesh and the Yakshagana of Karnataka. But there are others who strongly argue that these two dances are hardly a hundred years old. Whatever that may be, both Meenakshinatakom and Kamasanatakom have the confluence of the characteristics of Mohiniyattom and Kathakali. The lasya of Mohiniyattom and the thandava of Kathakali are well mixed in the dance sequence of Meenakshinatakom. Even the Elakiattom of Kathakali, male characters have to be done by Meenakshi in Meenakshinatakom. The songs are all a mixture of Tamil and Malayalam. The make-up and customs bear considerable resemblance to that in Kathakali. The characters are all allowed to speak.

Chavittu Natakom

The Portuguese influence in Kerala helped the spread of Christianity along the southwest coast. As a result, a new type of community was slowly brought into existence, which being cut off from its original setup, had to look upon the Westerner for cultural substance. Out of this situation was born a new art form with songs, dialogues and dances, similar to the miracle plays of the West. They are known as Chavittunatakom. The stage settings, introduction of curtains costumes, masks, etc., show the influence of the West. Genoa, Caralman Charitram, Nepoleon Charitram etc., are some of the important plays.

Modern Dances

Contributing to the already rich heritage of Kerala's dance art is the modern dance composition. Although they have no real roots in any of the above mentioned dance traditions they mime the characteristics of tribal, folk and classical type of dances. They manifest the growth and development of Kerala dances. Here efforts are made to combine choreography with classicism and fit traditional dance partners into new moulds. It has revealed a world of charm in its creation bringing a refreshing originality, a delightful native and a winsome simplicity. The Western type of dance forms called opera and ballet have come to be produced in purely local dance techniques.

Opera is a joint work of art produced by the union of poetry, drama, music and all subsidiary arts of the theatre.

Since singing and acting are to be done by the same person, the histrionic element is relegated more to the background. In opera, singers are often preferred to actors. The opera incorporates dances but the dance rhythm is not a continuous matrix in which the drama unfolds.

Ballet has this continuous rhythm, using expressive postures and movements involving the whole body. The mature gestural language of the Kathakali tradition is also mixed sometimes. The ballet relies mainly on instrumental music.

Source: IT Department, Government of Kerala